On July 11, 2014, the Georgia Court of Appeals allowed a suit against the Atlanta Braves to proceed.
The suit centers around a Melky Cabrera foul ball that entered the stands near the third base dugout and fractured the skull of a young girl. At this juncture of the case, the Court declined to adopt the “Baseball Rule”.
The “Baseball Rule”, which has been adopted by courts and legislatures in some other states, allows the owner of the stadium to escape liability for foul balls entering the stands as long as the owner screens the most dangerous section of the field (the area directly behind the plate) and provides enough seating in the screened area for patrons who may wish to sit there (see footnote 3 of the opinion linked below).
While the Court refused to adopt “Baseball Rule” at this stage of the litigation, it is unclear whether they will do so should this case return after trial.
There is no question that the area the plaintiffs were sitting was dangerous. Should the patron assume the risk of sitting in such places at a ballpark or should the club be required to take more steps to protect the fans? It will be interesting to see if this case goes to trial and, if so, what direction the Court will take should the verdict be appealed.
The other night at the Greenjackets game I sat in a similar place to where the girl was sitting. There isn’t netting and I know it is dangerous. I feel as long as there is the opportunity to move from to an area behind the netting around home plate that a stadium shouldn’t be required to protect me from foul balls or bats that enter the seats.